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Overnight Shipping: A Definition Plus Pros & Cons

March 17, 2021 Published by

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Overnight shipping is a great way to get an order into a customer’s hands quickly. As the demand for fast shipping options increases, it can be tempting to offer something like overnight shipping, but you should consider its true cost carefully before doing so.

We’ll explain what overnight shipping is as well as some pros and cons of this shipping option to consider.

What Is Overnight Shipping?

Overnight shipping is a delivery option that guarantees shipments will be delivered the next business day. It is by far the quickest delivery option offered by most couriers with some providing varied overnight services depending on the time-of-day shoppers want to receive their order.

Overnight Shipping Services Offered By Courier

The USPS, FedEx, UPS and DHL each have their own unique set of overnight shipping services.

FedEx Overnight Shipping

FedEx is typically the most expensive carrier and offers three options in the U.S. that allows shippers to customize delivery & pick-up options.

  • FedEx First Overnight: As their fastest option, delivery is guaranteed as early as 8:00 a.m. the next business day for most U.S. destinations. Delivery by 2:00 p.m. is available for other extended destinations as well.
  • FedEx Priority Overnight: Delivery is guaranteed by 10:30 a.m. the next business day in most U.S. destinations. Remote area delivery is scheduled by 5:00 p.m.
  • FedEx Standard Overnight: Delivery by 3:00 p.m. is guaranteed for most U.S. addresses.

FedEx overnight options also allow shippers to customize delivery and pickup options like requiring proof of delivery.

USPS Overnight Shipping

The USPS’ fastest service is its overnight Priority Mail Express. Parcels weighing below 70 pounds ship overnight with Priority Mail Express starting at $24.70. If you need your order delivered as quickly as possible, Priority Mail Express options also exist that guarantee delivery by 10:30 a.m. the next day.

Of the three major carriers, the USPS offers the cheapest overnight shipping option. Why? The USPS runs local routes daily, which means they don’t have to divert from their usual path to deliver to your customer.

UPS Overnight Shipping

The UPS offers three overnight delivery options, including:

  • UPS Next Day Air Early: Guaranteed overnight delivery by 8:00 a.m. at the earliest the next business day.
  • UPS Next Day Air: Guaranteed overnight delivery usually by 10:30 a.m. the next business day.
  • UPS Next Day Air Saver: Guaranteed overnight delivery usually by 3:00 p.m. the next business day.

All UPS overnight delivery options offer online tracking.

The Pros and Cons of Overnight Shipping


For companies looking to offer the latest and greatest in shipping, overnight shipping is an attractive choice. This quick delivery option may help exceed customer expectations and push last-minute shoppers to buy their products.


Overnight shipping tends to be more expensive and its cost can vary depending on many factors including the DIM weight of your packages, the amount of shipping zones they must travel, and your ability to negotiate shipping rates with carriers. At best overnight shipping is affordable if you put careful thought and planning into it, at worst it can get very expensive depending on how far you need to ship heavier packages.

A Good Option With Planning

Overnight shipping can be a good option with planning. Taking steps to minimize the distance packages must travel with overnight shipping and looking for ways to cut down on your DIM weight costs can all go a long way in making it affordable.